My office mates were calculating the odds of Pres. Trump winning a second term. Lukewarm toward Trump, they traditionally vote Republican.
“Mitt Romney believes Trump will easily win again,” said one.
“If the economy continues to improve, Mitt is probably correct,” said another. “Plus, I don’t see any Democrat able to defeat him. Bernie certainly won’t.”
“Trump can self-destruct, however,” said a third, “who knows what he’ll tweet next. But with a strong economy he has a tailwind.”
I stayed out of the conversation. I’m not convinced Trump will get (or deserves getting) credit for the low unemployment rate. Businesses deserve that credit, although the Trump-Republican tax cut has greased the wheel. However, most economists think Trump’s tariff policies will hurt the economy, and wage increases are still relatively stagnant. Statistics show the “forgotten” Trump voters in rural middle America are still not hauling money to the bank.
Mitt’s prediction on a Trump victory may have more to do with showing his “Republican bonafides” than clear analysis. Trump still has a more than 50 percent unfavorable rating, and a shift in about 1 percent of the voters in only three states would have elected Hillary, not The Donald.
But if I were a Democrat, I would focus my campaign on the theme that most Americans – even those who voted for Trump or against Hillary – are often embarrassed by: his loose lips, his tweets, and his aggressive partisanship. (A leading Republican official and one-time political donor told me last week, “Every morning I wake up I’m embarrassed by something he has said the day before.”)
And if I were a Democratic strategist, the campaign would go something like this:
“If you elect me as President to replace Donald Trump, I promise I will never embarrass you by having affairs and paying off porn stars.
“If you elect me, I promise never to embarrass our allies in Canada and Europe, and I further promise not to invite Putin and his Russian thugs to join the peaceful G-7 nations, and reward him for invading the Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airplane.
“If you elect me, I promise not to embarrass you by claiming that I can pardon myself and fire anybody who is investigating wrongdoing in the White House.
“If you elect me, I promise not to embarrass you and your financial security by threatening to veto a federal budget and allowing the U.S. to default on our bonds and our contracts with investors.
“If you elect me, I promise to think before striking out at someone who disagrees with me. I promise to have a civil discourse on controversial subjects and to study the issues before I let loose with a twitterstorm of nonsense.
“If elected, you won’t agree with everything I support. But again, I promise not to embarrass you – and to work with both political parties to make America a better country than it is today.”
And if that speech would change the minds of 1 percent of past voters in three states, Mitt would be wrong about Trump’s second term.